Allegations by the Aam Aadmi Party against the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly taking a U-turn in the Sohrabudin and Tulsiram Prajapati murder case, have cast a dark shadow on the current administration. The opposition party has alleged that the Centre-controlled investigative agency was preparing an escape route for BJP president Amit Shah, a prime accused in the case. Referring to the ‘changed stand’ adopted vis-à-vis Shah’s alleged role in the two murders in a special CBI court, AAP leaders have said that the agency, which has so far named him as the prime accused, was now planning to try him as merely another accused. Such allegations were made based on the CBI’s recent ‘limp’ submission before the court in Mumbai where the BJP president has filed a discharge application. Evidence also points toward such a motive. According to AAP leaders, on December 15, the CBI counsel argued for just 15 minutes in response to three days of vigorous arguments by Amit Shah’s legal team, as to why the incumbent BJP president should not stand trial in the murder case. Shah’s lawyers submitted that the charges against him be dismissed. Many had expected the CBI to stick to its earlier stand of naming Amit Shah as the central figure in the conspiracy.
It was only last year that the Supreme Court questioned the agency’s credibility, during its assessment of the coal scam probe, calling it a ‘caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice’. Expressing a strong displeasure at the erstwhile central government’s interference in the Coalgate probe report, the apex court had said the report was changed on the suggestions from senior ministers. To make matters worse for the agency’s reputation, earlier this year, erstwhile CBI Director Ranjit Sinha was found to have met people with known links to individuals and entities facing charges of corruption in various high profile scams like the 2G and the ‘Coalgate’ scandal. Time and again the apex court has expressed its anguish over the CBI’s lack of autonomy. These occasions had given the agency an opportunity to push for reforms. The government must now take measures to reform the CBI, establish its independence and make the agency accountable to Parliament. It was only last year that the BJP hit out at the Congress for misusing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), while describing the recommendations by a group of erstwhile UPA ministers for making the agency more independent as a ‘farce’. Unless it wants to be accused of the same, the BJP-led government must display the political will required to initiate key reforms in the CBI. The agency cannot remain as an instrument of dominance for the central administration.